Just because winter has come, that doesn’t mean you have to put the ATV or UTV away for the season. These machines are just too much fun to ride in the snow, so keep riding. Who cares if the snowmobile gets jealous, right? Let’s ride! But you have to do it the right way. You need the right stuff for both you and your machine to have a fun winter riding experience. Here are five things you need to have a good time on the trails this winter.
A winter helmet
Never, ever go out on the trails without a proper helmet. You can’t have any fun if you’re not around to enjoy things any longer and banging your head against a tree at speed is a poor way to end things. You’ll never catch us riding without a helmet and during the winter months it’s important to have the right kind of helmet, too. When it’s warm, a nice ventilated lid will help keep your head cool, but during the winter months, it can lead to serious injury from frostbite. A proper winter helmet not only helps keep your head safe and warm, but keeps your vision open, too. You can opt for a snowmobile-style helmet, or you can winterize your dirt helmet by getting a breath box from the manufacturer, and plugging up the vents with the proper kit. Then you need a balaclava and good winter goggles. You want ones with dual-pane lenses to reduce fog, and thicker face foam to help shield your skin from the cold.
Winter riding gear
Proper snow gear is easier to get because you basically can use snowmobile stuff. A good winter riding jacket has a longer tail to keep snow from riding up your back. Bibs will keep your lower body covered and the shoulder straps keep things from slipping down as you ride along. Boots are pretty easy, too. If you’re in a UTV, go with a more relaxed boot, like something you would use for walking around in. If you can’t drive your truck in them, you don’t want to hop in the RZR. For ATVs, stiffer boots, like you’d wear on a sled are better as they give you the support and protection to stand up and move around on the machine. The hardest part of winter gear is the gloves. We don’t like gloves that are too thick with an ATV as it can cause our hands to cramp. You also lose some dexterity. We will often ride with a thinner glove and some extra protection
Heated grips are the best way to overcome cold hands and thick gloves. You will have to hard wire them in but trust us when we say it is well worth it. You can also add in a thumb warmer to go on the thumb throttle to help keep things nice and toasty. We like to add to this a set of hand guards to help block the wind. If you do a lot of riding, going with a full fairing is a great way to add a good wind block for most of your upper body. Several of the manufacturers sell machines in a special version for norther riding. These comes with heated grips and some have full fairings right from the showroom floor. Add in a heated seat, which is another option, and you’ve got a comfy ride.
Windshields and cabs
For UTVs, you will want at the very least a windshield for winter riding. A full cab is better as it gives you better protection from the elements. Even the sportiest sport machine is available with a full cab enclosure. Select machines are available with a heater. Some, like the Polaris Northstar Edition, have everything you need to enjoy the cold weather, with a full cab, heater, defrost and more.
Basic winter safety kit
You wouldn’t go riding without basic tools any time of year, but in winter, there’s a few things you need to take along on every ride in case you get stuck and have to spend a lot of time off the machine. This kit should include materials to start a fire, including a way to make kindling, and matches. You should also carry a flashlight for after dark, and some way to signal for help. This can include flares, or a reflector. We also like to have a good, long tow strap along, and a small, compact shovel to move some snow if we get stuck. It’s also a good idea to take along some higher calorie food, so you can help keep your body moving if you get stuck for a long time. A simple kit like this can help ensure you get back home after a winter adventure.